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Root Down Farm Ramblings

Summer Share #4 of 22: 6/25 + 6/27 Summer is Officially Here

by Erin and Steve on 06/23/19

Yeah for the beginning of Summer, and hopefully it will start feeling like it around here! I'm sure if you are calling around to u-pick farms in the area in search of strawberries or wondering about the start of cherry season I'm sure you've found that everything is late! Our garlic scape crop is coming in a full week later than normal. For the previous 8 years they have always been part of week #3 of the share, but instead you'll see them this week, week #4. On that note, for everyone in the fruit share it will be starting a week later than normal because cherries are a week behind, too. So if you signed up for the fruit share (an email is coming) it will start Tuesday the 9th or Thursday the 11th.
The weather is making us even more organized than before, making sure we get all the work we need to get done while the sun is shining and the fields are dry enough to be in and balancing that with the wet times, where we can spend more time in the high tunnels or working on projects. But we sure have not had to irrigate, which I think is contributing to the feeling that the Summer really isn't here yet. But the zucchini and summer squash are on their way, I'm not sure if we'll get a sneak peek of them this week or not, but the overnight temperatures are looking good, so cross your fingers!
This week's share will include: broccoli, broccolini (last week for this), radishes, turnips, kale, chard, collards, salad greens, beets, broccoli raab bok choy, kohlrabi, garlic scapes, and head lettuce.

Summer Share #3 of 22- 6/18+6/20 It's Late June, Time to Complain (just a little)

by Erin and Steve on 06/16/19

Oh what a weekend I've had. It was wicked windy on Friday, to the point where it limited some work we could do. And then I woke up on Saturday and IT WAS STILL WINDY! I know my last post was about how it's still Spring and I know we get wind storms in the Spring, but not this late! and not sustained for this long! So Saturday morning we went out to check the fields and one of the row covers (40x200 foot sheet) had blown completely off the watermelon we just transplanted and the cantaloupe sheet was halfway off as well. In the wind we couldn't get the watermelon cover back on so we just had to secure it in place and subject our little seedlings to the torment of the weather. We then had to cancel our plans to leave the farm because we had to check everything that could be a affected by the wind on the hour every hour. So by about 5 pm we thought it was calm enough to leave the farm so we headed out and as I was on Transit Road with my blinker on and braking before my turn when someone flippin' rear-ended me...flat breaking on his part. And as we are talking after the accident it started to rain! AAAAHHHHHH! So then we just went back home. I hope you all had a way more productive and fulfilling weekend than I did, especially you dads out there. Sometimes it feels like I should just 'pack it up' for the day and try again tomorrow; sometimes you just can't win.
But we went for our weekly field walk on Sunday, delayed due to the wind on Saturday, and though the crops have endured some crappy weather, including way too much rain, they are surprisingly doing well. I can't believe the broccoli crop right now, and we were pleasantly surprised by others like the first cabbage of the season is in. The onions, after being planted in a wetter area of the farm looked like they are bouncing back (hopefully they can handle this latest deluge). So it looks like the mix-and-match will be in full effect in the share this week. Woohoo!
This week's share will include: carrots, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccolini, salad radishes and turnips, beet greens, broccoli raab, kale, chard, collards, bok choy, salad greens, spinach, and head lettuce. Yes, head lettuce will be in the share for a few more weeks because this is the time of year it really shines! So get your dressing ready because it's salad season. And if you or your significant other is thinking something like "I like bacon", or "I eat sausage every morning", then great. Crumble that up and put it on a salad.

Summer Share #2 of 22: 6/11+6/13 It's Still Spring, no Seriously

by Erin and Steve on 06/08/19

It's true, the end of Spring is Friday the 21st. I know that we all want to extend what feels like Summer, so we say 'the unofficial start to Summer is Memorial Day', but that is a whole month too early. Also, in case you are wondering the end of Summer is September 23rd, not Labor Day 20 days earlier. I know we act like it doesn't matter to us which day Summer starts, but it does matter to all the plants...on earth...everywhere. They know the difference. Some vegetables rely on day length to signal when it's time to start maturing (think of how long the days get, the longest one being June 21st which is no accident). Other vegetables rely on what is called growing degree days, or the amount of days spent over a specific temperature threshold. There is a lot of natural science occurring on the farm that is linked to the length of day, which in turn is linked to the seasons. I know when we go to the grocery store it's hard to see the reality of the natural world (especially next to the bananas), but at least at the farm you can be reassured that we are all tied to it, and therefore we are also all actually tied to the real start of Summer: June 21st.
So here's to all the vegetables in this week's share that love the Spring: Broccoli, broccolini, carrots, salad radishes, bunched spring greens, bok choy, kale, chard, collards, head lettuce, and salad greens.
Don't forget your mushroom share and Providence Creek Farm will also be here this week with pasture raised meat. Finally, if you have not made your final payment, or are unaware of what you owe, or just want to check just ask at the share pick up.

The Summer Share is Starting! Share 1 of 22: 6/4 + 6/6 from 2-6:30

by Erin and Steve on 06/01/19

The Summer Share is starting this week. This marks the first share pick up of 22 total weekly share pick ups for the 2019 season. We are excited to get going after Spring felt a little cold and even lost at times. Some of our crops who lived through the wettest part of Spring (when there were makeshift 'lakes' in lawns and fields) have some wounds but are mostly recovered. We're celebrating every time the sun is out by doing absolutely as much as we can during that time! We are happy that we are mostly on schedule for the field plan (the schedule that seeds and plants are transplanted into the fields). We just keep doing as much as we can do when we can do it...that's our Springtime motto.
So make sure when you come to the farm you come with your payment and an open mind. The farm has sent out 2 emails within the last week with all the information current members need for their first pick up. Take a look ;)
So we'll see all of you on Tuesday or Thursday depending on your pick up day from 2-6:30 in the Big white barn.
The first share of the season will include: broccoli 3 ways (sprouting broccoli, broccolini, mini broccoli heads), carrots, garlic shoots, bok choy, head lettuce, and radishes.
Rusty Bucket Mushrooms should be here this week and Providence Creek Farm pasture raised meat will be here on the 2nd week of the share.

Spring Share #5 of 5 The Last Spring Share

by Erin and Steve on 05/25/19

This coming week marks the last week of the Spring Share, which means that the Summer Share will be starting the following week (the first week of June). So you Summer Shares should look for an email from us soon.
We were almost dried out from all this rain, some of the plants looking a little better than the ones in lower lying areas of the fields. I like that people have been relaying their harrowing lawn mowing stories to relate: stuck mowers, abandoned areas of lawn, and even one person said they just got it mowed last week for the first time. Yes, these are all cues that it is too wet for our crop's liking (and this farmer's liking, too).
So the last Spring Share will include: bunched greens, garlic shoots, radishes, turnips, spinach, head lettuce, asparagus, herbs, and bok choy. What a great ending to my favorite share of the year!

Spring Share #4: 5/21+5/23 Dry Out?

by Erin and Steve on 05/19/19

Last week's rain wasn't as bad as predicted, which allowed us to get a lot more plants in the ground! The water table is still pretty high because of all these Spring showers, though, limiting the amount of field work we can get done. But the sun is shining now and I'm not gonna complain while the sun is out.
This week marks 2 more weeks until the Summer Share start, which means there are 2 more weeks of the Spring Share. To all you Summer Shares (who don't have a Spring Share) we will be starting the Summer Share after the Spring Share ends. As I said last week, look for an email from us soon with more details about the about the start the first full week in June.
Now I am not about to wish Spring away. There is one more entire month of it anyway and it hasn't really felt like Spring since the end of March! So let's savor some of these real Spring days that aren't so soggy. This week's Spring Share will include: carrots, garlic shoots, asparagus (if the sun stays out!) bunched greens, radishes, salad turnips, herbs, lettuce and spinach....what a week.

Spring Share #3 of 5: 5/14 + 5/16 As Fast As We Can

by Erin and Steve on 05/11/19

May is feeling a little more like April to me right now. I thought April showers brought May flowers, not even more showers. But we are only halfway through the Spring (Summer starts June 21st) and I'm feeling like it isn't even May yet. Which is funny because I remember telling myself in April that it is only April and not May. I think Mother Nature has got things flipped here.
We're taking advantage of every minute of sunlight, since there hasn't been many anyway. Last week was the marathon onion and leek planting date and we were able to get all 23,000 onions and 4,000 leeks in the ground. I thought we would only get half the onions out, but we did them all and managed to get the first planting of tomatoes in the ground as well. If anyone is familiar with onion starts, it's like planting individual blades of grass in the ground...eek. Back in the greenhouse some of the plants are getting a little antsy and wanting to go out to the field and us farmers are too. Here's hoping we will be harvesting cucumbers, tomatoes and melons this Summer instead of rice!
Just a little reminder for all you Summer Share holders, the share will start the first full week of June as always. This year the first Tuesday pick up is June 4th and Thursday is June 6th. Look for an email from us sometime next week.
As for the Spring Share, this is what will be in this week: scallions, radishes, salad turnips, herbs, bunched greens, lettuce mix, and spinach. See you Spring Sharers between 4 and 6 Tuesday or Thursday.

Spring Share #2 of 5: 5/7 + 5/9 Soggy

by Erin and Steve on 05/04/19

Wow, May Day blew by and now we're ready for some serious transplanting into the big fields, but we need the rain to quite and the sun to come out! We need some dry weather here and not just a 'window' this time cause we got some work to do.
I'm glad we got into the fields in the previous weather windows afforded to us, but now the ground is more saturated than it's been all Spring (which started at the end of March;).
So thank goodness for high tunnels, because right now all the veggies in the Spring Share are coming out of them, including these guys that will be in this week's share: scallions, broccoli raab, radishes, lettuce mix, spinach, bunched greens, chives, bok choy and baby kale. See all you Spring Sharers between 4 and 6 on Tuesday or Thursday. For everyone in the Summer Share, as I mentioned in the last email that share will start the first full week of June (if things ever dry out! ha!).

The Spring Share is Starting (which is not the Summer Share)

by Erin and Steve on 04/27/19

Yeah, even though it's snowing outside we are happy that the Spring Share is starting! Now...again...I have to say this: The Spring Share is not the Summer Share. If you are signed up for the Spring Share you have now received 2 emails about it from the farm. If you have not received these emails it is because you didn't sign up for the Spring Share. If you are signed up for the Summer Share you will be receiving info from the farm closer to the start (which is the first week of June).
But the Spring Share is starting this week. Remember that pick ups are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6**. So if you are picking up on Tuesdays then your first pick up is Tuesday April 30th from 4 to 6**, and if you are picking up on Thursdays your pick up is on the May 2nd from 4 to 6**.
The share will include (but is not limited to) salad radishes, herbs, bunched greens, broccoli raab, scallions, spinach and lettuce mix. So if you have a Spring Share we will be opening the barn doors for you for the first time in 2019 this week! So exciting!

The Spring Share Start...not the Summer Share Start

by Erin and Steve on 04/20/19

Good news for all you guys who signed up for the Spring Share: it is starting soon! The first Tuesday pick up will be on April 30th from 4 to 6** and the first Thursday pick up will be on May 2nd from 4 to 6**. Now, everyone who signed up for the Spring Share was sent an email last week and will again receive a second 'reminder email' this coming week.
To be clear, we are talking about the Spring Share and the Spring Share is not the Summer Share. So if you did not receive an email about the Spring Share that means you did not sign up for it.
The first plants for the Summer season went in the ground in the big fields last week. We were lucky enough to get them in before the next round of rain. We're hoping for some more sun this week, too so we can stay on schedule. Staying on schedule never really happens though because we are at the whim of Mother Nature and she's been a little less predictable lately! So we are savoring the sunny days, and hoping for a little less rain in the forecast. The farm is getting greener and greener by the day.

Hurry Up and Wait

by Erin and Steve on 04/13/19

I'm sure every year at this time I title a post "Hurry Up and Wait". That's what Spring is like for us. Everything needs to get looked over, combed through, counted, adjusted, sorted, ordered, cleaned, changed, updated, and ready to no specific time other than it all better be ready when we need it! What??
This coming week is the week that the field plan has the first of our large crops going out into the fields. This is our 9th CSA season, and I think things have gone according to the start date once out of 9 times (because the forecast shows a load of rain this week!). So my nerves are going and I'm looking at the farms we follow all over the country on Instagram posting their first transplanting days and I get a little jealous. But any day now I'll be posting about finally getting in the big fields for the official start of 2019's CSA season.
But we keep preparing so that when there is a window in the weather we can go, go,go as fast as we can before it rains again. Good thing we had the Winter to rest our bodies before we start demanding too much from them again...ha.

Onions Demystified

by Erin and Steve on 03/26/19

So we for some reason get a lot of questions about our onions, specifically storage onions, and I don't really know why other than people just don't understand how they grow and how many different varieties of onions exist in order to serve a myriad of purposes.
I had a friend visit me once when I was living and farming in Vermont. Steve and I took her on a tour of the vegetable fields at the farm where we were working. She was amazed at a vegetable sitting seemingly on top of the soil with grassy-like 'hair' coming out the top. "What are those Erin?" she asked (well, honestly she called me by the ridiculous nickname she had for me at the time). "Those are onions," I said. "If you look closely at them you'll see."
This part of this particular visit has always stuck out in my memory because if you know what a fresh onion looks like it looks exactly like that on top of the soil right before it is ready to be harvested.
So, putting this all into the context of our farm and the season that is already underway...onions were the first things to be seeded. All 25,000 seeds of onions are broadcasted into 1020 greenhouse trays (1000 seeds per tray) at the end of February. When they germinate they look like green hairs or grass. We grow 9 different varieties of onions. We seed specific varieties to be harvested 'fresh' like Sierra Blancas, Ailsa Craigs, and Walla Wallas to name a few. The foliage of the fresh onion is still green and looks like scallion tops when they are harvested fresh. Generally these fresh onions are milder and sweeter in flavor than storage onions. They also cannot store as long as specific storage varieties. We grow Scout, Red Bull, and Cortland onions as storage onions (and there are a few specialty ones like Cipollini in the middle). Cortlands generally last us in storage all the way threw to the end of the Winter Share.
Onions are a crop we grow with a lot of pride because they are difficult to grow. Not only do they have pests and vegetable diseases to fend off (as do all vegetables), they have almost no canopy to shade out weeds so it is a pain to keep them weed free. We use tine weeders early on and finger weeders later on in their growth cycle to mechanically cultivate them. This means the beds of onions cannot have any drip lines in them (the typical way we irrigate) because they would get caught up in the tine weeder. So the onions even have their own irrigation gun the farm purchased to make them happy in dry seasons. A picture of this can be found on our Instagram page. Just click the icon in the upper corner of this page that looks like a polaroid camera. The picture from June 25th, 2018 shows our onions from last year grown right there on the corner of Shimerville and Roll roads (YES, if you drove through that intersection at all last year between early May and early August you drove right by all the beds of onions). Go ahead and follow us on Instagram if you want, or if you are not able to just visit our Instagram page throughout the season to see the progress of the farm and the onions.
There is way more info I've got for you on onions, including how we cure certain varieties for storage, but we'll leave it there for now and I'll explain more about our onions...just one of the almost 60 different crops we grow...later.

The Greenhouse has Started

by Erin and Steve on 03/13/19

Here we go 2019. The earliest seeds to be transplanted out into the fields were started in the greenhouse on Monday. Good thing the weather is a bit warmer, now if we could get the sun to stay out for more than one day maybe the ground will start drying out! We seeded 100 cell trays that had 98 cells per tray and 10 cell trays that have 50 cells per tray. That's over 10,000 seeds i.e. plants slated for the spring fields. And that's just the first week of seeding!
We are also seeding the the high tunnels (the buildings that look like greenhouses, but are not heated) for the Spring Share and even with those cold temperatures, the first seeds seeded in February still germinated. We are continuing to turn these tunnels over from the winter share so they can be seeded into again for the Spring share. It's an exciting time. If the sun is out it can get up to 80+ degrees in the tunnels even if it is in the 20's or 30's outside. But if it's cloudy outside, it can be pretty cold to work in there. So here's to more sunny, warmer, dry days. But I'm not wishing time away, this year will probably fly by like most of them do.

Sunny Days

by Erin and Steve on 02/16/19

February is getting away from me here. I don't have as much to do during this time of year, and I try to limit the amount of time I spend working because this is supposed to be (and actually is) down time for us. However, we are in the midst of a pretty large farmhouse renovation and that is taking up most of our time and lots of Steve's thoughts. If everything works out the farm will finally have it's own office and it's own kitchen. We are starting seeds for the season the last week of the month. Then it's on to the new barn improvements for the year: a new wash room. This is quite the undertaking as the barn will eventually be reconfigured on the inside, but right now the goal is the washroom. Hope there is time for that on top of everything else we have to do before we have to actually get in the field in April!
So I want February to last as long as possible. This goes against common thought, I am sure as most are ready to move past winter now. But the daylight now lasts longer than 10 hours per day, which is key for both plant growth and the psyche. So all of you who signed up for the Spring Share can smile even when the weather is crap knowing that the seedlings that will become some of the vegetables in the Spring Share are already starting to grow in the high tunnels. I mentioned starting the greenhouse at the end of the month, so for now I have seeds to sort.

Stick the Landing

by Erin and Steve on 02/09/19

I was a gymnast from the time I was 5 years old until I was 10. When I turned 10 I thought it was amazing that I had been doing something for half my life (I have a memory of this conversation). I liked doing it and even competing at gymnastic meets. Once I started growing too fast (I'm 5'10" now) it became difficult. But at the end of every event...floor routine, uneven bars, the beam, and the vault, I made sure that my dismount was spot on. I loooved to stick the landing. Then you stand up tall and put your hands up like "ta-da". Then solute the judges and walk back to your coach.
Well we just finished up the 2018 CSA share season and afterwards I wanted to put my hands up like I stuck the landing after nailing the routine, solute, and walk away with my toes pointed. We had an amazing year. I'm very proud of it. I'm also very thankful for everyone who supports the farm and this wonderful piece of farmland, the BIG old barn and the people who make everything come together including the crew and volunteers. The season in WNY can be demanding, relentless, and unforgivable so when things work out well..."ta-da". Nailed it. Now on to 2019.

Root Down Farm
5850 Shimerville Rd 
Clarence Center, NY 14032

Pick up hours:
Summer Share M and Th 2-6:30
Winter Share M and Th 3-6
Spring Share M and Th 4-6
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